Which and Falaqa

Thom Harrison THarriso at MAIL.MACONSTATE.EDU
Thu Dec 5 15:00:35 UTC 2002

I defer to one who clearly knows more about it than I do.

But now that I think about it, the alternate voiced and voiceless stops used
in transliteration suggest that the issue is not placement or voice, but
aspiration--that is, that the sound in question is a voiceless but
unaspirated stop, so that English speakers can't quite decide whether it is
a "k" or a "g."

Similar issues arise in the competing transliterations of Chinese.

Thom Harrison

-----Original Message-----
From: James Smith [mailto:jsmithjamessmith at YAHOO.COM]
Sent: Thursday, December 05, 2002 9:50 AM
Subject: Re: Which and Falaqa


The "wh" isn't a borrowing - as I see it- so the
spelling and pronunciation have evolved and diverged
as part of the development of the English language.

Yes, I think Goethe is an example of a similar
affectation: I guess no one could decide whether to
simply pronounce it in English as the spelling "Gothe"
would indicate, or to render an approximation such as
"Gutta" or "Gurtta", so a confusing semi-german
spelling was choosen and we were left to stumble over
the pronunciation!

But my main point with the Arabic "q" is that it
becomes either an English "k" or "g", it never is what
Tom Harrison describes in another post as a "...velar
stop that is farther back than the one that occurs in
English and is not phonetically conditioned, as is the
English "k" sound."  The letter "q" doesn't exist in
Arabic, the Arabic sound doesn't exist in English but
is approximated by "k" or "g" when speaking, so why
use "q" to represent a "k" or "g" sound when writing?

"Koran" is seen as "Q'run" more frequently.  We still
write and speak of "Kuwait", but on the other hand, it
has been "Iraq" for as long as I remember.

--- "Dennis R. Preston" <preston at PILOT.MSU.EDU> wrote:
> Why the affectation of "wh" in "who," "why,"
> "which," whether,"
> etc...? Why the affectation of "oe" in Goethe? Are
> all spellings
> which do not phonemically represent English (leaving
> the question
> which English aside since Michigan English is
> obviously to be
> preferred) pronunciations affectations?
> dInIs
> >More generic than just "falaqa", actually.  Why do
> we
> >use "q" instead of "k" in rendering Arabic into
> >English?  Why Qatar, which I've heard pronounced on
> >the BBC news as more like "gutar" or even "gutter",
> >instead of Katar?  The sound in Arabic is
> presumably
> >distinct from the English "k" sound, but it usually
> >becomes simply "k" in English, whether the "q" or
> "k"
> >is used to represent it.  If it's closer to "g"
> than
> >"k", why not use the "g"?  Why this seeming
> >affectation for "q" in English rendering or
> borrowing
> >of Arabic?
> >
> >
> >=====
> >James D. SMITH                 |If history teaches
> anything
> >South SLC, UT                  |it is that we will
> be sued
> >jsmithjamessmith at yahoo.com     |whether we act
> quickly and decisively
> >                                |or slowly and
> cautiously.
> >
> >__________________________________________________
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> --
> Dennis R. Preston
> Professor of Linguistics
> Department of Linguistics & Germanic, Slavic,
>       Asian & African Languages
> Michigan State University
> East Lansing, MI 48824-1027
> e-mail: preston at msu.edu
> phone: (517) 353-9290

James D. SMITH                 |If history teaches anything
South SLC, UT                  |it is that we will be sued
jsmithjamessmith at yahoo.com     |whether we act quickly and decisively
                               |or slowly and cautiously.

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